A year of getting back to normal education | Spare News

A year of getting back to normal education |  Spare News

The year started off with a one-week extended winter break so schools could prepare for in-classroom instruction as the fourth wave of COVID swept over Alberta. Medicine Hat College students continued with online learning.

Within one week of returning, public schools experienced high teacher absences. By month end, Connaught School went online for two days due to a gastrointestinal illness causing a 45% absence rate.

In February, protestors at schools were calling for an end to masking, with some in Dunmore escorted off the property by the RCMP after they were chanting while walking the hallways. By month end, student protestors gathered at the Alberta legislature to protest lifting the mask mandate.

In March, the provincial government announced a staggered phase of implementation of the new K-6 curriculum along with investing $72 million in charter and collegiate schools, benefiting 16 schools across the province. In Lethbridge, university students return to classes when faculty strike ends after six weeks.

April saw the official opening of the HUB Virtual School and Pathways Program on S. Railway Street.

In May MHC discontinued two ESL courses due to low enrolment while the Medicine Hat Catholic School Division helped bring 34 displaced Ukrainians to Medicine Hat. The one-year anniversary of discovering 215 unmarked graves at a former residential school in Kamloops is acknowledged across the country. The education plan in the Medicine Hat Public School Division includes a commitment to First Nations, Métis and Inuit integrated learning while coming in with a balanced budget. The budget for Prairie Rose Public Schools comes in at a deficit of more than $900,000. MHCSD passes budget with an estimated $29,000 deficit.

In June, Hat High students staged a protest for mistreatment of international students, leading to a commitment by MHPSD to send out regular surveys to international students and homestay families. Classes in all three divisions end without COVID restrictions and MHC returns to in-person convocation.

In September, students return to classes with no restrictions. CAPE charter school delays students coming back by a week due to high teacher absences. A new private school opens in the city, taking in about 40 students.

High class sizes prompt MHCSD to hire another Grade 1 teacher after starting a new academic year.

All divisions celebrate Orange Shirt Day and second annual Truth and Reconciliation Day with teachings and activities during the week and day of Sept. 30. MHC holds a well-attended walk followed by speeches.

MHPSD welcomes student senate members to board meetings. A collaboration between three school districts and MHC provides more mental health support from the Brandon Niwa Legacy Fund.

In October, education is one of the primary issues in the Brooks-Medicine Hat provincial election with the Alberta Teachers Association holding a forum for all candidates. MHC holds a grand opening of Health, Wellness and Athletics expansion.

In November, Premier Danielle Smith refused to put a mask mandate in place for schools despite rising cases of respiratory infection and increasing absenteeism. By late November, absent rates in five public schools were near 10% or above and the division was working with AHS to get letters out to parents.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.